A double from ex-Livi youth Andy Geggan helped Ayr United comfortably overcome Livingston at Somerset Park. The Honest Men overcame the Lions 3-1 with Eddie Malone getting their other goal and Dean Cummings netting for Livingston on his first start.
John Hughes made just one change to the starting line-up that beat Raith Rovers at home the previous week, with Dean Cummings replacing the injured Stefan Scougall in the centre of midfield. Meanwhile, Rory Boulding and Jack Beaumont gained themselves a place on the bench for the first time under the new manager.
It was a wet and miserable day in Ayrshire as the home side kicked off, but Livingston quickly became dominant with the neat passing style of recent weeks continuing. Just two minutes in, and already Kevin Cuthbert was called into action to deny Cummings an early goal. Eight minutes later Cuthbert was called into action again, parrying a well placed Bobby Barr shot out for a corner. Livingston weren’t to be denied however, and from the resultant corner Dean Cummings bagged his first senior goal. Set up by Keaghan Jacobs, Cummings’ shot was deflected by the defence beyond the reach of Cuthbert to put the Lions ahead.
Livingston continued to dominate the game as Bobby Barr was denied, his shot deflected just round the post. Moments later, a free kick played in by Liam Fox was lucky to be scrambled away by the Ayr United defence.
A poor throw out by Cuthbert was met by Keaghan Jacobs, who played the ball across for Marc McNulty, but his shot from very close range was cleared off the line by Eddie Malone and out for a corner.
The Lions confidence was up, and it was defender Paul Watson who decided to take his chances next. Taking control of the ball in defence, he proceeded to weave his way up the pitch and sent in a decent shot which was comfortably held by Cuthbert. Keaghan Jacobs was next to have a chance to double the lead with an excellent long range shot which was spectacularly tipped over by the outstanding Cuthbert.
Minutes later, against the run of play, Ayr United found themselves level. After Craig Barr had cleared out for a corner, the big defender was the first to meet the ball in the box, but his header was only as far as Andy Geggan who dutifully volleyed into the back of the net.
After dominating much of the first half, the Lions suddenly found themselves on the back foot as Ayr United took confidence from their goal. Craig Barr did well to deny Michael Moffat with a great sliding tackle. Just before the half time whistle, Mark Roberts had a chance to give the Honest Men the lead, but his brilliant drive was pushed wide by Andy McNeil.
And Ayr were out the traps fastest in the second half, and Paul Watson did well to clear the ball off the line less than a minute in. Kyle Jacobs responded at the other end, but his shot went just by the post, hitting the side netting from close range.
But in a quick fire few minutes, Ayr United clinched all 3 points. A controversial Eddie Malone goal, once again from a corner, gave them the lead on 53 minutes as the Livi players called for handball. However after speaking to his assistant the referee waved away the complaints. Minutes later, Geggan grabbed his second of the match, heading home from yet another corner.
Despite the comfortable lead, United’s hunger didn’t disappear as they continued to pressure with Geggan again coming close on the hour, seeing his effort deflected wide.
Substitute Iain Russell did his best to bring the Lions back into the game, firstly seeing his own effort saved for a corner, then setting up Bobby Barr whose effort was saved by Cuthbert. McGowan responded at the other end for Ayr United, seeing his effort go just by.
With just over 15 minutes left, Ayr United once again courted controversy, Malone clearing off the line straight into the hands of the keeper, prompting the travelling support to call for a pass back. As time faded away, so did Livi’s chances of getting back into the game with Kyle Jacobs having the visitors’ last effort, seeing his low effort go just wide of the post.
McNeil kept the score down in the dying minutes, denying Geggan his hat-trick and saving a Mark Roberts shot.
Despite their early dominance, the Lions failed to take enough of their chances and paid the price as the home side scored against the run of play. After their goal, it was all Ayr United, and despite some huffing and puffing Livingston never looked like getting back into it. Some poor defending from corners, in the second half, allowed Ayr United to stroll the game; with Andy Geggan pulling all the strings. The new management will be looking for a good response next week as Dundee visit the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium.
Cuthbert, Tiffoney, Dodd, Malone, Smith, Geggan, Moffat, Tomsett, Parker (Wardlaw 85), Roberts, McGowan
Subs not used: McWilliams, McKernon, Robertson, Armstrong
McNeil, Docherty, Talbot, Watson, C.Barr, Ky.Jacobs, B.Barr, Fox (Russell 62), McNulty (Boulding 79), Cummings, Kn.Jacobs
Subs not used: Fordyce, Beaumont, Jamieson
Ref: C Thomson
Match report by Chris Naismith